Spearmint

Spearmint

Spearmint is a member of the mint family — a family that offers a remarkable diversity of invigorating scents and flavors. Refreshing spearmint is especially popular for use in cold and hot drinks, including mojitos, juleps and herbal teas.

Although you can start mint from seed, it is easier to start with a small plant. Like other mints, spearmint plants are spreading perennials that, left unchecked, can quickly overtake a raised bed. The best way to grow any type of mint is to plant it in a pot (an 8" to 10" diameter plastic nursery pot works well) and then sink the pot into the soil in the raised bed, leaving the top 2" of pot exposed. This confines the roots and prevents them from spreading into the surrounding soil. Plant spearmint near the edge of your raised bed and the stems will cascade nicely over the edge. Note that you'll want to keep the plants' stems pruned to minimize soil contact, because they'll start to root wherever they touch the soil. Be sure to use these flavorful prunings!

Spearmint prefers part shade and moist soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Mulching around the plants will keep the soil cool and also helps you keep an eye on any errant stems to prevent rooting. Like other mints, spearmint is a relatively carefree plant and requires no special care besides efforts to keep it in bounds.

To harvest, pluck off individual leaves or prune and strip entire stems. Keeping the plant trimmed and pinching off flowers will prolong the harvest of tender, young leaves and help keep the spreading growth in check.